Beauty and the Beast, Reading and Bribery

 

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

I always enjoy Michael Han’s blogposts. He writes with a poise, passion and persuasiveness that is refreshing. His perspectives are interesting, stimulating and enlightening. His piece about his personal reflections on his family outing to Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” and the gay moment is so gracious, spot-on and disarming. Some of the things he mentioned:

  • There were many other unwholesome moments beside the gay moment
  • What his 6-, 11-, and 14 year old kids thought of the movie
  • That the story is about the power of love to bridge divides and to transform
  • That the story reminded him of the prodigal son story

Michael ended his post poignantly with a personal confession:

And as for me, as a father, a husband and a Christian, I too am accountable to my family, marriage and God. In my own fallen nature, I will stand for what is right, true and honourable. Parenthood is always a fraught road with many twists, turns, and bends. Sometimes, I take the road less travelled. At other times, I lapse into the broad road. Still at other times, I confront a crossroad struggling with my own demons.

But I do not see bringing my kids to watch the movie a detour or derailment in this journey of mutual growth with them because my family’s takeaway after the movie is not that it promotes a certain value incongruent with ours. On the contrary, it is a movie that teaches my kids some important lessons as I have written above. And the most relevant lesson of all is this: there is always a place for love in all relationships to bridge the gap, and this love transforms hearts by going beyond our differences, not reminding us of how different we are from them.

Insightful blogpost. You will enjoy reading his post on Beauty and the Beast.

READING EFFICIENTLY

Dr Alex Tang writes about an interesting idea about how reading is about getting to the main message of the writer, which he says is about 20% of the book. And if we can get to the central message and savour it, that is what reading is all about. He shares how he reads by listening to an audio book or a video at a higher speed for fiction or at a lower speed for difficult matters.

“Actually, the art of reading is not the speed but getting the main thesis or message of the book whatever the format. I will estimate that 80% of any book is padding and the gem is in the 20% if we can find it. The 20% contains the heart of the whole book. It does not matter at whatever speed we read, only that we discover this gem at the heart of the book. If we then slow down to savour, reflect, and assimilate, then we would have read that book well.”

I have started a through the Bible in a year listening program under the YouVersion Bible apps. It’s quite refreshing and I have already gone through Job and Leviticus, two challenging books in the Old Testament. I am not complaining. Maybe its the season I am in.

 Do you see yourself trying his efficient method of reading or do you feel that the joys and beauty of reading good literature may somehow be lost in all that efficiency? Read his post on “Reading at x1.5 Speed” .

BRIBERY

I love this piece on bribery by Methodist pastor Rev Sng Chong Hui. It is so succinct that it conveys everything needed to the common internet surfer who will allow you 2 minutes of his attention most times. Most people do not have time to read a research paper with statistics and survey results. There is a place for that too. But most people need to know that bribery is not merely a matter of corruption of two individuals or groups but something so insidious it will proliferate and one day erode society’s foundations. It is certainly outrageous when Presidents and Prime Ministers and judges and policemen and bankers take bribes and lie through their teeth. But even the seemingly harmless small bribe can spread gradually and pollute the whole of society over time. Read his post on the Bane of Bribery.

 

Spiritual Reading

Two books for spiritual nourishment

Over the past two weeks I had read two books, Unfolding His Story, an account of the charismatic revival  in Singapore(including my church’s story), and Preaching by Timothy Keller. You see, I was on vacation in Bangkok. I slept, ate, shopped and read.
In Singapore I wouldn’t have been able to do this. Too much time on work, leisure and social media keeps me from this good old fashioned habit of turning paper pages, and reading black print without attention-seeking videos, pictures and advertisements on the sidebar.
The only other time I read so much was when I had to do it because it was part of the required reading of my ongoing studies. I had no choice.
Reading is a great help in the spiritual life: when accompanied with an ear attuned to the stirrings of your desires and emotions; when followed through with reflection, prayer and writing.
This year, is the Lord inviting you to read a Christian book on a particular topic? Just do it, my friend, just do it.

Reading and learning and knowing- “above all”

St Paul lets slip his love of true knowledge in 2 Timothy 4: 13 – When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments. Above all, he wrote, as if that was what he valued more than the other things he could have asked for. He knew the day of his departure, his execution drew near. How many months would it be before the blade separated his head from his body? He could have asked for other things, but why he did he ask for his books and parchments? Books, which according to the original Greek, meant papyrus scrolls that probably carried the ancient scriptures of Israel. And above all – parchments, which probable referred to the animal skinned version of today’s books. What’s in them? Perhaps memories of those close to Jesus who recorded his sayings and deeds in these durable material. Paul was trained a rabbi, so he could recite the whole Pentateuch from “in the beginning” to “in the sight of all Israel”. He knew all the interpretations of all the biblical schools of thought. He had supernatural encounters with Christ and had heavenly visions. He had vast experiences of suffering for the gospel and knowledge of church planting. Yet he said, “above all” bring the parchments. He had a hunger to learn, and to fellowship with God. He had much time in prison, and he wanted to end his last days in the company of “friends” – some books of the Old Testament, and fragments of what may possibly one day be part of the gospels. We have missed this in our day of digital idolatry – the relishing of scriptures and fellowship with the Living God that those scriptures point to. Paul knew the scriptures were not Christ; he knew though that like signboards or photographs they showed what the real thing was like. As in Paradise, God walks in the Holy Scriptures, seeking man, says Ambrose of Milan.

It was the real thing he was after. His cry, even near death, was “that I may know Him” more and more intimately. What a truly Spirit educated man! Never ever give up on reading scriptures till your dying day. Lord, let that be true of us as well. Let our heart beat again with the “above all”.